This is a day where nearly every team that isn’t in the playoffs is sending out mass e-mails, thanking their fans and talking about their grand plans to build a winning ballclub. There’s usually nothing newsworthy in any of them, but I wasn’t the only one who found a portion of this e-mail from Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and general manager Jack Zduriencik rather interesting.
Courtesy of Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, see if you can spot who is missing in part of Zduriencik’s message.
We’ve got a flock of top-rated prospects on their way to the big club.
These include position players Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Carlos
Peguero, Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, Johermyn Chavez, Greg Halman and
Matt Mangini, along with hard-throwing pitchers like Michael Pineda,
Blake Beavan, Dan Cortes, Mauricio Robles, Maikel Cleto and Anthony
Varvaro. Many of our best prospects are headed for winter ball and the
fall instructional league – they’re driven to improve and play at the
That’s right, no mention of Josh Lueke. For the uninitiated, the Mariners insisted they knew nothing about the pitcher’s criminal past when he was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade, though former pitching coach Rick Adair says otherwise.
I’m probably not out of line to say that any organization that trades a player like Cliff Lee would probably attempt to hype up their newest acquisitions by default, but it’s fairly obvious they are trying to avoid any and all controversy here. For what’s it’s worth, Stone is fairly certain that the omission is “not inadvertent,” and goes as far to wonder whether Lueke is actually in the organization’s long-term plans.
Granted, maybe Lueke doesn’t fit the definition of a “top prospect” by virtue of being a reliever, but he did post a 1.86 ERA and 94/14 K/BB ratio over 63 innings between the Rangers and Mariners organizations this season. Some have even mentioned him as a future closer. The 25-year-old right-hander pitched 12 games with Triple-A Tacoma to end the season, so they’ll have to make up their minds pretty soon.
The Brewers have signed Neftali Feliz to a one-year, $5.35 million contract. There are some performance incentives in the deal that could push it to $6.85 million. Feliz will likely open the 2017 season as the Brewers’ closer.
The 28-year-old righty is coming off of an impressive season with the Pirates. His hits allowed per nine innings were WAY down and his WHIP dipped sharply as well, despite the fact that he walked a few more dudes. That was offset by a big spike in his strikeout rate: from 7.3/9IP in 2015 to 10.2 last year. A blemish: he missed the last month of the season after suffering a bout of arm soreness, though no structural problem was ever uncovered, he’ll likely be good to go next month.
The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.
For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.
Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.
A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.